Seven people and two companies were indicted today by the Justice Department for their roles in operating the very popular file sharing website Megaupload, which has been shut down.
Indicted were the site's founder Kim Dotcom, aka Kim Schmitz, who was arrested in New Zealand. Company emloyees Bram van der Kolk, aka Bramos, 29, Julius Bencko, Finn Batato, Sven Echternach, Mathias Ortmann, and Andrus Nomm were also indicted by the feds.
ABC is reporting that Batato, Ortmann and van der Kolk. were also arrested in New Zealand. The other two individuals remain at large.
At the center of the indictment is a half-billion dollars in copyright losses the feds allege Megaupload and it's shell company, Vestor Limited have caused.
"The Mega Conspiracy, a worldwide criminal organization whose members engaged in criminal copyright infringement and money laundering on a massive scale," reads the indictment.
It is alleged that Megaupload and Vestor Limited have raked in $175 million dollars in proceeds since the website was established in 2005.
The timing of the indictment comes one day after massive protests against two proposed anti-piracy bills. Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and the PROTECT IP Act (PIPA).
Reddit, Wikipedia, Mozilla, WordPress, Google and thousands more websites participated in the protests.
Below is an explanation of the proposed bills and what they would mean to you if passed.
Let’s begin by first breaking down the first of the two bills that were introduced, PIPA. PIPA is an acronym for the Protect IP Act, and was first introduced to the U.S. Senate on May 12, 2011 by Senators Patrick Leahy, Orrin Hatch, Chuck Grassley. It is also good to take note that PIPA is a re-written legislation, the original being the failed to pass Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA) of 2010.
PIPA, if passed, will give U.S. corporations and the government the right to seek affirmative legal action with any website that they see as enabling copyright infringement whether of U.S. origin or not. Here is a breakdown of all that they will have the power to do.
SOPA is an acronym for the Stop Online Piracy Act, and is a bill introduced to the U.S. House of Representatives by Represenative Lamar Smith on October 26, 2011. In similarity with PIPA, SOPA is a build on a previous legislation. This legislation being the PRO-IP Act of 2008.
SOPA, if passed, will work in conjunction with PIPA. As described by such entities as the Electronic Frontier Foundation, SOPA is nothing more so than the U.S. government and private corporations black list. Here is a breakdown of the power given to the government and private corporations.